‘Why did Macron do nothing?’ French President attacked as UK races ahead with vaccines

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Emmanuel Macron has come under fire in recent months for the country’s response to the coronavirus crisis. In recent weeks the controversy has centred on the country’s slow rollout of the vaccine as critics frequently compare it to the UK’s fast and efficient vaccine programme.

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, president of French political party Debout la France, has led the calls against Mr Macron and asked: “Why did Macron do nothing?”

He posed the question after it emerged Franco-Austrian pharmaceutical firm Valneva will be financed by the UK.

The French government refused to fully fund the companies research, offering to pay for up to 80 percent of its research.

French laws prohibit 100 percent state financing of private enterprises.

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As a result, the UK stepped in and backed the development, securing an agreement to supply 60 million doses from a plant in Livingston, West Lothian, Scotland.

Britain will receive the doses of the vaccine from October, while France isn’t due to get the jab until next year.

Franc Grimaud, the company’s chief executive, said the was because “the UK responded the fastest”, despite several governments being contacted when the project launched.

He said: “In large part no doubt because we already had a base there and also because they believed straight away in our ‘inactivated’ vaccine.

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“They took all the risks . . . and immediately forwarded €96 million to use before the end of December.

“It’s logical that, under contract, we undertook to deliver to them first.”

In response, Mr Dupont-Aignan has lashed out at the French President.

He wrote on Twitter: “France does not react, and lets production go for the United Kingdom where the government has signed a gigantic pre-order with funds to finance clinical trials! Why did Macron do nothing?”

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French MEP Jordan Bardella also fumed: “We are paying above all for the abandonment of our sovereignty in favour of other emerging powers in globalisation, and above all we have under-invested in research,” when “we have the know-how, the talents”.

He told Cnews the government needed to “significantly raise the budget” for reseach because “investing in research today will be the price of independence tomorrow”.

Mr Macron’s lead opponent, Marine Le Pen, has said: “We are above all paying for the abandonment of our sovereignty in favour of other emerging powers in globalisation.”

But the French government has sought to defend its record on vaccines.

Minister of Industry Agnès Pannier-Runacher said: “France hasn’t lost the opportunity because Valneva will not deliver vaccines to the UK until this fall, and by then France would have received 150 million doses” from other laboratories.

France, like most European countries, is currently suffering a shortage of supplies of the Pfizer-Biontec, Moderna and forthcoming Astrazeneca vaccines.

The UK has so far administered almost 11 million vaccination doses, while France trails behind having not yet reached two million.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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